With plenty of cattle hay feeders to choose from, there is no shortage of possibilities for farmers who want to feed their cows the right way. But what about feeding your cows other things except for hay and grass? Can they eat fruits and vegetables? What about apples in particular? You will find the answer right away.
The myth regarding cows and apples
You might have heard this myth. Cows that eat apples can get a bloated stomach and die. But that’s not what’s happening when your cattle feed on apples fallen on the ground or those that you offer them to diversify their diet.
So, if that’s not true, where does this myth come from? There is a small grain in this myth, which is that the cows can get a little bloated when eating apples. However, that happens only if they eat a lot of apples all of a sudden and for the first time in their lives.
Anything new that’s introduced to a cow’s diet can cause bloating. It is not only apples that can cause this side effect, but any other fruits and veggies that your cows may eat by accident or otherwise. As long as cows feed on fallen apples, they won’t run the risk of overeating.
They know what’s good for them and what isn’t and they won’t eat more than what they can digest. So, if you plan to introduce apples into your cows’ diet, do so gradually. And here’s another thing. Many cows love apples and will consider them treats.
Can cows eat half-fermented apples?
Farmers who have apple trees in the vicinity of their cattle range or on their properties say that their cows often eat the half-fermented apples that remain on the ground, without a problem. Although cows can suffer from digestive issues, they have pretty strong stomachs and a few apples, even fermented, won’t pose any troubles.
It may actually be the other way around. As long as they’re not moldy, the fermented apples can help with regulating the pH in the animals’ stomachs. That can further promote digestion, so, instead of chasing your cows away when they try to eat some apples, you may just as well encourage them to do so.
Apples contain essential nutrients that can’t be found in grass
How would cows feed if left in the wild? They would not eat only grass. They will be eager to supplement their diet with fruits and vegetables, as many as they can get their tongues on. That means that apples, and other foods, contain nutrients they feel they need.
For instance, apples are an excellent source of potassium. They are also full of vitamins and minerals, something that can’t be said about grass. As you can see, cows are pretty smart, and the reason why they love to eat apples is because that is how they get balanced nutrition.
What other foods do cows like to eat?
While it’s nothing wrong to keep your cows on a diet based on hay and grass, it never hurts to delight your cattle with some treats. Apples are pretty high on the list, but there are many other things they like. For instance, you can feed them pears and watermelon rinds. Especially the latter seem to provide a lot of satisfaction, from what farmers say.
Cattles can also eat corn, and they usually enjoy it. Berries of any kind are seen as tasty treats, as well. If you have fruit trees and bushes close to where the cows feed, you will notice that they won’t keep from getting their treats straight from the source.
What about those rich in sugar like carrots and beets?
Beef cattle can be fed with carrots and beets, and there are no recommendations against this type of feed. However, there are a few things you should know when feeding your cattle with them.
For instance, small beets should be processed, as they might cause choking or bloating if they are swallowed without being chewed. By processing, you don’t have to think of passing the beets through some specialized grinder. If you go with a tractor over them, they may be mashed enough for the cows to eat them with ease.
Carrots are pretty great because they have almost the same nutritional value for cows as corn does. You can feed your beef cattle with carrots as much as you like because they represent an excellent source of energy. Some studies show that cows can eat up to 35 pounds of carrots a day without any negative consequences.
What’s the real danger?
While you may hear stories of cows that ate too many apples and bloated so much that they needed a visit to the vet or something worse happened, actually any fatalities or problems with consuming such foods are more related to chocking than anything else.
That is why the same advice from earlier regarding beets and the necessity to mash them a little before feeding them to cows applies. In case you fear that your cows might choke on apples, the best solution is to break them apart into smaller pieces.
That will eliminate the risk you heard about, and your cows can happily eat what you offer them. As for bloating, cows can suffer from it due to various reasons. Actually, if you ask an expert, he or she can tell you that cows can eat anything to the point of becoming bloated. Therefore, as the owner, you should just supervise how much they eat.
The importance of proper nutrition for cows
Your cows’ feed should be a little diverse to ensure optimal health. That’s why you shouldn’t shy away from offering your cows some apples, as well as other fruits and vegetables. Since cows might get little energy from the foods they usually eat, like hay and grass, it is a good idea to opt for root vegetables rich in sugar like carrots and beets.
1) What is the best feed for cows?
3) The nutritional value of an apple
4) Bad Idea to Feed Cattle Apples?
October 11, 2019 at 7:05 pm
Interesting article. I remember the juice company that went out of business over E.coli because their suppliers were giving them fallen fruit and they weren’t pasteurizing the juice. So those fruit growers didn’t know they could sell that fruit to dairy farmers and avoid a loss. How true is it that cows like the refuse from making beet sugar? This was a plot device in Michener’s Centennial. Supposedly poultry also loves it.
October 18, 2019 at 2:47 pm
Hi Pat. Based on what I know, a portion of the grain in the ration of a cow is sometimes substituted with sugar beets as these offer several advantages over the traditional high energy grains that are used in dairy cattle feeding programs.